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Planning for a Simpler Application!

3 March 2022

Male hands wearing a gold wedding band with a blue suit and white shirt, use a ruler and mechanical pencil to draw a line on a detailed architect's plan

The Planning Service's Improvement Plan Update Report met with approval at South Hams District Council yesterday. The Executive approved the adoption of a Local Validation Checklist and a Planning Charter that shows how the Council will improve performance and responsiveness for applicants involved within the Planning process.   

The Council's recent Planning Improvement Plan, part of the Corporate Strategy, 'Better Lives for All' aims to improve the service and applicants' expectations.

To kick-start the plans following a helpful six-week public consultation in September 2021, a Local Validation List has been updated which will make the service much easier for applicants.

Now those applying for planning applications will follow a simple checklist to find out which application forms and supporting documents they need to submit for the work they want to carry out and when they need to submit them. Easy!

Not only will this take some of the frustration out of the planning process and make sure that applications are accepted first time, it will also make the service much faster and reduce delays when additional information has to be requested.

The Planning Team are also very keen to promote the use of their pre-application advice service, which can provide applicants with certainty over which information they need to provide in advance of applications being submitted.

The checklist will also help the Planning team to gain information from applicants about how they are

  • reducing their carbon footprint,
  • achieving a 10% biodiversity net gain,
  • better provision of open spaces, sport and recreation; and
  • protecting the countryside and heritage assets.

It will also go towards meeting the Council's goal for Climate Change and Biodiversity.

Along with the Local Validation List, the newly approved Planning Charter sets out how the Planning Service will work with developers and the community on applications.

The Charter makes clear what those using the service can expect to receive from their service. What their vision is with respect to customer service and realistic expectations for timescales, but also what is at the heart of the service the Planning Team provide.

In return, they also ask for some commitments of their own. They ask for consideration of their staff, for developed quality and sustainable designs and that applicants follow policies and guidance.

The full charter will be available for public viewing from Friday 1 April. 

Cllr Judy Pearce, Leader of South Hams District Council, said: "This is a positive step forward in making the planning process a simpler process for everyone. The improved performance will mean better clarity, accuracy and responsiveness from  householders asking for a one-time application, small business applicants, right up to large-scale house builders and developers.

"We know there is much we have to do to ensure we get it right and we are working hard on our improvements to do just that. However, the Charter is a joint agreement between both sides, so everyone can do the best they can for each other. For that to happen, we need applicants to play their part too, to make sure that the process runs smoothly." 

To read the Executive report, go to: www.southhams.gov.uk/Executive

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